A New Generation Finds Purpose in Fundraising to Fight Ovarian Cancer

Madeleine and Emma Jean may be young, at ages eight and nine, respectively, but they are already focused on how to help create a future in which no families are impacted by ovarian cancer. These two OCRA Heroes have never met but they have a shared motivation for their efforts — losing their namesakes to ovarian cancer. Both Madeleine’s great-grandmother and Emma’s grandmother died from the disease before the girls were born. But in each case, that loss has been channeled into efforts to raise funds to fight this disease.

Taking on a Triathlon to Help Move Research Forward

“Us kids have a chance to make the world a better place and we should start now.”

Madeleine, age 8, OCRA Hero

Though Madeleine never had the opportunity to meet her great-grandmother, she feels connected to her through the many traits they have in common. “I feel like she was a lot like me based on what my mom has told me,” Madeleine explained. “She was petite and strong, she liked small things and talking to people, and much more.” 

Left photo: Dayna with her grandmother (Madeleine’s great-grandmother) Margaret; Right photo: Madeleine

Madeleine’s mother, Dayna, noted that her daughter has heard stories of her namesake since she was a toddler. “Madeleine is our firstborn and with that came the honor and responsibility of carrying my grandmother’s name,” Dayna said. “She wears the crown of ‘tiny but mighty, just like Grandma Margaret,’ with pride and distinction.”

So close is the connection that Madeleine feels to her great-grandmother that she decided to take part in the Women’s Whisper Youth Triathlon in East Meadow, New York, earlier this year to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance. “Madeleine is an extraordinary kid, and her act has really been a gift to the whole family,” Dayna noted, explaining that her daughter’s decision to raise donations through the triathlon has “given a purpose to my grandmother’s end-of-life struggle with ovarian cancer.” 

For Madeleine, her decision to take on this particular triathlon was entirely inspired by her great-grandmother. “I felt like I was doing something that would have made her proud,” the young athlete said of her participation in the race, which involved swimming 100 meters, biking 2 miles, and running .6 miles. Having already participated in a number of triathlons over the past year, this one held special significance for Madeleine because of the opportunity it gave her to help other families impacted by ovarian cancer. “Us kids have a chance to make the world a better place and we should start now.”

Using Her Creativity to Contribute to our Cause

“You can do anything you are good at. I’m good at making bracelets but you can sell anything. Let’s make it so no one gets ovarian cancer!”

Emma Jean, age 9, OCRA Hero

Emma also shares this fierce determination to make a difference for others in the ovarian cancer community, a purpose that helps to quell her grief over her grandmother’s passing. “I am tired of being sad I never met her, and I want to make a difference so other kids [can] know their grandmas.” 

Left photo: Elizabeth, right, and her late mother, Barbara Jean; Right photo: Emma and Elizabeth on the day Elizabeth was tested for BRCA mutations

An opportunity to contribute came about when Emma started making bracelets earlier this year and a few friends expressed interest in buying them. Instead of choosing to keep the money for herself, Emma decided to donate it to ovarian cancer research — and her hobby turned into an ongoing fundraiser. She has sent more than 180 bracelets to 22 states and three countries so far, enclosing a personal thank you note with each one of her creations. “I love that it gives Emma something positive to do with her sadness,” said her mother, Elizabeth. “Will she ever meet her angel grandma? No. But does she think she’s helping the life of another grandma? Absolutely. It gives her hope that other people don’t have to go through this awful disease.”

Elizabeth credits Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance with having an impact in her own family’s life, including through our organization’s funding of the Making Genetic Testing Accessible (MAGENTA) study. When OCRA posted information about the study in 2018, Elizabeth signed up and received free genetic testing, which led to her finding out she is a carrier of the BRCA2 mutation. “It is because of OCRA that I got tested and was able to take action to lower my risk of breast and ovarian cancer. I owe so much to OCRA.“  

As for Emma, she plans to keep fundraising as a way to give others a brighter future. “I am happy to think maybe it could help other people not get sick,” she said, noting that there are lots of ways for other children to join in her efforts. “You can do anything you are good at. I’m good at making bracelets but you can sell anything. Let’s make it so no one gets ovarian cancer!”

Emma getting ready to send packages with bracelets inside

Get inspired by Madeleine and Emma  – and find out how you can start a fundraiser of your own to help the ovarian cancer community.

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